Martín Mantovani, Leganés’ Argentine idol who was a hero in the Kings League final

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The Kings League, without a doubt, has become one of the sporting phenomena of recent times. The 7-a-side football competition, organized by Gerard Piqué and a group of influencers, has a new format that has attracted the attention of the masses. Its relevance can only be explained by mentioning the fact that the last matches of the tournament were played in a packed Camp Nou 92 thousand people and what did he have one million followers on digital platforms. Beyond its grandeur, the final of the tournament had an Argentinian as its main protagonist: Martin Mantovanithe one born in San Miguel who slept on the street to obtain citizenship, came to mark Lionel Messi and built a career in Europe.

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The 38-year-old defender, who has had a long career in Spanish football, chatted to him clarion after winning the inaugural tournament that was revolutionized by its amazing rules. He was for a long time captain of the Leganés, a team where he is also an idolbut he also worked in the branches of Atlético de Madrid, Real Oviedo, Las Palmas, among other clubs. Also, he had a pass through the FC Andorrateam of which Piqué owns.

In his days as a professional soccer player, Mantovani faced Lionel Messi.  (@mantuanimartin)

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In his days as a professional soccer player, Mantovani faced Lionel Messi. (@mantuanimartin)

In the league of kingsthe former defender defends the shirt of The neighborhoodof which he is president streamer Adri Contreras. Undoubtedly, being part of a project of this nature and in its inaugural season is quite an experience. “It was a very nice, very positive experience. After all, I got there, not surprisingly because they contacted me about the career I had made and because they knew I had retired, so I went with the philosophy of what El Barrio is.”Mantovani began by explaining.

-What is the philosophy of El Barrio?

-El Barrio is a humble club, a streamer who moves the last of the 12 that existed, a lower profile. I entered a world that I hardly knew for the feeling of going back to playing football, of being able to be on a field, albeit a smaller one, but with that feeling. Honestly it was a success because I had a bit of a rebound, I started trying the experience by chance, I liked it, I tried it again and game after game I felt better. Later, you end up in a crowded Camp Nou and have a very positive and emotional experience.

At the end of the tournament El Barrio won 3-0 against Aniquiladores FC and Mantovani scored two goals. After his great performance, he was named MVP of the finals and said he was surprised by the repercussions he had: “Being the protagonist of the last game and coming out MVP, on a personal level has many repercussions. I was impressed with the impact it had, the extent to which it reached and the level of audience it had. There are a large number of media who communicate with me, messages and people who write to you is something difficult to understand.

As a professional soccer player, pressure is something you constantly have to live with. The degrees of concentration are different and, many times, the players don’t end up having fun taking the field.

“When you start playing you kind of forget what the crowd is, but it was really cool because on a personal level I had a lot of fun. Professional football puts you in a box: you are fully focused, you are involved in the game, in your teammates and in the will to win. The level of self-questioning is very high, so in the end you enjoy little things that happen to you. Sunday was a different situation because I was very aware in every moment, I knew I was enjoying the experience a lot and I was living it from another point of view”.told

On the other hand, he expressed that, for the first time in a long time, his wife and children were able to go and watch him playsomething that in his professional phase was not so regular. “My family got to see me, my wife hadn’t seen me for a long time, but above all my children. They are young and all my phase as a player in the first or second division, they have lived little or have few memories”celebrated.

It is different what happens in the league of kingsSince this is a highly informal environment, the rules are changed and the show is essential so that the viewer can enjoy. “Dice and cards are what surprised me the most. You are playing, the game stops and they draw a card which makes it impossible for you to have a player or play a two by two. They are different things that stop the game a lot, but they are beautiful and fun”commented.

Martín Mantovani scored a brace and was the Kings League Finals MVP.  (@mantuanimartin)

Martín Mantovani scored a brace and was the Kings League Finals MVP. (@mantuanimartin)

It is a reality that footballers’ careers are getting longer. Yes, OK Mantovani has already retiredyou believe you have the necessary conditions to resume your professional activity, but you do not believe you will receive a call to do so: “I think I have no chance, but I would like a team to come. I would tell you that I feel prepared and physically well, but I know it is very likely to happen. If I had the chance, of course, I feel very good and I’m looking forward to it.”he detailed.

Logically, the furor of uniting ex-pro players with other amateurs has attracted a lot of attention. The Argentine talked about how that adaptation was and the respect he had from his teammates: “The first day you arrive in a place where everything is very well organised, but you enter a dressing room with 12 strangers and suddenly you enter to play with them, to defend a shirt and everything seems very strange to you. Subsequently he took on color and over time he integrated. The boys were phenomenal with me and the respect they had for me was precious, for them it was incredible to say that they played with someone who had played in the first division.”.

Although he also stressed that he was surprised by the level of players with whom they had to share the field and gave a reason why he could reach the crown. “Ubón, Jacobo and Beguer were the ones that caught my attention the most. They are guys who have good dexterity, good one-on-ones, in short distances they carry the ball very well. These are things they have that surprised me and that have come in handy for our team. We had youth and experience, something very important.”analysed.

But the reality is that his heroism was somewhat by accidentas, at first, he was registered as player number 12. Indeed, together with Nicolás Pareja, another former Argentine player who played for Argentinos Juniors and Sevilla, among other clubs, they rotated that position. “Number 12 was me and Nico Pareja. We were spinning a game and a game”. The plan was for Mantovani to play the semifinal against Saiyans FC, where Barrio won 4-3, and for Pareja to make it to the final.

However, a rule prevented the rotation. That is to say that whoever played in the semifinal had to act in the decisive match. It was decided that Mantovani would take on that responsibility and it couldn’t have gone better. “I had intended to play in the semifinal and Nico in the final, but in the end whoever played in the semifinal had to play in the final and they decided for me”concluded.

Source: Clarin

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